Real Answers from Real Pilots

Starting at 0 time vs. Obtaining a PPL before ATP

Hey Guys,

The price difference between the 40 hour multi-engine ATP experience with a Private Pilots License seems to roughly be $16,747 ($69,995-$53,995 = $16,747). If I am correct, it is fair to assume that ATP is valuing their private pilot program with 80 hours at $16,747. If I were to make the decision to go elsewhere to obtain my PPL to save money, is it safe to say that finding a CFI whose rates are below $16,747 and can offer 80hours is a cheaper route than starting at ATP from 0 time?



I’ll be frank. Good luck. Anyone can advertise a price to obtain a rating,
but the advertised price is the MINIMUM cost to obtain a rating. Who is to
say that you, or anyone else, I’m only using you as an example, can
complete a PPL course under ATP’s price? Mom and pop flight schools are
notorious for extending a student’s training for various reasons. Before
you know it, you could be paying almost double than you planned. IF you are
going to go this route, I would investigate the school very carefully.

Something else you need to consider is that if you were to get your PPL
elsewhere, I can almost guarantee that you will have to unlearn bad habits
when you get to ATP. Not only that, but you will also have to learn ATP’s
policies and procedures. Each flight school will require you to fly their
airplanes their way.

So, my point is, lean more towards quality over quantity. If you think
you’d be better off getting your PPL somewhere else, then by all means. A
lot of pilots started their careers this way, myself included. At the time,
I didn’t have much choice, though.

I will say, the one good thing that I appreciated about getting my PPL at a
local school, was that it gave me the extra time that I needed to
assimilate the information. In a sense, I wasn’t ready for ATP’s
accelerated program, but for me, it wasn’t about saving money. It was about
doing what was right for me based on my learning abilities.

Now that ATP has changed their program from 6-9 months, if I were to do it
all over again, I would have chosen to get all of my ratings at ATP. 6
months is doable, but 9 months would have taken the pressure off. By the
end of my training at ATP, I eventually became acclimated to the pace of
the program.

Everyone has different needs and learning styles. Choose whichever path is
best for you, but do it for the right reasons.


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I have no doubt you can find a local flight school that offers lower hourly rates. It’s your money, your call but everything that Tory states is dead on. I’ll give you one more thing to consider. At ATP you’ll earn your PPL and the 80hrs in 3mos. Pilots have a very finite amount of years they can fly since they MUST retire at age 65. EVERY day you delay is one less day off you career, that’s a fact. Let’s no put that in dollars and cents. Senior Capts at Major airlines earn in excess of $300k per year which equals $25k a month. If it takes you 1 extra month (which I’m fairly certain it will be considerably more) that’s $25k you’ll never see. Factor in years of 401k contributions etc and even if you save half you’re in the whole. Factor in the quality of the training and everything else Tory covered and to me it’s not a question. That said again your money, your call.


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If you have 0 time, I would recommend starting at ATP. I came in credit for private and like Tory said, there were definitely some bad habits I had to break. Not only was I trying to study for the instrument checkride, I also had to learn a new airplane and new SOPs, where the people there from private have already been flying the airplane for 80hrs and are used to the ways ATP does their training. Starting from 0 time with ATP you learn there SOPs from day 1, and it makes the transition to the rest of your training very easy. I forgot a lot of the private knowledge I had and it took a bit to get back to the point that I was comfortable.

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